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Visiting Henry Flagler’s “paradise” on Florida’s east coast

The Everglades along I-75, with a typical south Florida summer sky above

The Everglades along I-75, with a typical south Florida summer sky above–clouds gathering for an eventual thunderstorm

Sorry to have disappeared for a month! We just returned from our own road trip around the vast state of Oregon, taking in places like Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood, Hell’s Canyon, Wallowa Lake, the John Day Fossil Beds, & Crater Lake and Upper Klamath Lake. From Upper Klamath Lake, we veered down into northwest California to take in the majestic beauty of the giant coastal redwoods there, before traveling up about two-thirds of the Oregon Coast. Once the dust settles, I will put together a post with my top 10-15 images from our trip.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a little post I started, before leaving on vacation, about a jaunt we took to the Florida’s east coast not long ago…to Lake Worth, a fun, friendly, and eclectic little town wedged between Palm Beach to the north and Boynton Beach to the south. Lovely beach, fun downtown shops and restaurants, fabulous little Mexican food stand called Lupita’s, and plenty of nature and water activities. We stayed at a B&B called the Mango Inn, which was very peaceful and pleasant and within easy walking distance to the downtown and the lagoon. The signature breakfast dish “mango-stuffed French toast” proved to be disappointingly soggy, but perhaps the chef just had a bad day.

If you feel like taking a hike (we didn’t, given what time of year it is), you could easily walk to the ocean beach, which is clean and well cared for, by heading over the big bridge that crosses the 22-mile-long Lake Worth lagoon and deposits you close to the public beach parking lot. The old, historic casino building there has been renovated and offers a cool and pleasant spot to shop for souvenirs, grab an ice cream, or sit down for a meal.

casino

The Casino today as viewed from the pier

The Casino on the beach

The Casino on the beach, 1930s?

If you like to fish, the Lake Worth pier supposedly gets you closer to the Gulf Stream than anywhere else on Florida’s east coast; we saw some very big fish swimming below. The Snook Islands restoration project is underway in the Lake Worth lagoon which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. The fishing is supposed to be very good here as well. We gave it a try one evening and walked away empty-handed, but have heard good things about the location. You can launch a kayak from this spot too. Studies of the lagoon and its inlets over the last twenty years have registered a whopping 261 species of fish!

Day's fishing, Palm Beach, Fla. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Day’s fishing, Palm Beach, Fla. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

But the Lake Worth area of yesteryear was considerably different. While the fishing was probably just as good, if not far better, the population was vastly smaller. In 1920—only about 1,100. Today some 35,000 live in this small town which is surrounded on three sides by a sprawling metropolitan area that includes over five million people.

For a glimpse of how this area of Florida looked 100 or so years ago, you can view the Library of Congress images to the left and below. Most were taken in Palm Beach which is adjacent to where the town of Lake Worth lies today. The 1890 map below shows Lake Worth, the town, positioned north of Palm Beach, but today’s town is definitely to the south. But back in 1890, the entire area around the twenty-two-mile-long Lake Worth lagoon, was referred to as Lake Worth, so I suppose it did not really matter where the mapmaker plopped their little Lake Worth circle on the map.The current town was incorporated in 1912, twenty-two years after this map was created.

Township map of Peninsular Florida issued by the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida. 1890 ... Copyright, 1890, for the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida, By D.H. Elliott, General Land Agent. Matthews, Northrup & Co., Buffalo, New York.---segment showing Lake Worth and Palm Beach on the East Coast (Credit: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - www.davidrumsey.com)

Township map of Peninsular Florida issued by the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida. 1890 … Copyright, 1890, for the Associated Railway Land Department of Florida, By D.H. Elliott, General Land Agent. Matthews, Northrup & Co., Buffalo, New York.—segment showing Lake Worth and Palm Beach on the East Coast                                                    (Credit: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection – http://www.davidrumsey.com)

In 1892, millionaire oil tycoon/industrialist Henry Flagler discovered this corner of Florida, declaring it “paradise” and deciding that it would make an ideal tourist destination for super-wealthy northerners (such as the Wm. A. Rockefeller family—see clipping below). And, with that, the ‘Flagler Era,’ which was well underway in places further north in Florida, stretched south to encompass Lake Worth. In 1894, his east coast railway was extended south to reach West Palm Beach, ensuring a steady flow of tourists. That coincided with the grand opening of his Royal Poinciana Hotel, a luxurious winter haven on the barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the lagoon, where the beaches are. You can see pictures of the Royal Poinciana Hotel below; it was built to face the lagoon. A train track constructed over Lake Worth lagoon delivered guests straight to the hotel. Gargantuan in size (allegedly becoming the largest wooden structure in the world), it was able to accommodate up to two thousand guests; bellhops made deliveries on bicycles. A daily three-mile walk could be achieved just by traversing the hotel’s labyrinth of corridors. Two years later, Flagler opened the nearby Palm Beach Inn (today known as the Breakers, so named because of its position on the beach where the sound of waves breaking can be heard). It has undergone numerous renovations over the years and is still welcoming guests today.

1926-movie-poster

Poster for 1926 film starring Bebe Daniels: The Palm Beach Girl

Like many massive and grand Victorian hotels, the Royal Poinciana Hotel did not survive. It fell into decline in the 1920s and a 1928 hurricane and the 1929 stock market finished it off. The palatial hotel, an icon of the Gilded Age, was demolished in 1935.

I’d love to travel back in time to catch a glimpse of life in and around the hotel during its heyday, and of early Palm Beach / Lake Worth in general. Unfortunately, it appears that hardly any films exist from that period. Two directed by accomplished actress Pearl F. White (1889-1938), one in 1916 (Island of Happiness) and one in 1917 (Isle of Tomorrow), have apparently been lost—for an interesting article about them, click here. Also lost to the sands of time was the 1926 film starring actress Bebe Daniels, The Palm Beach Girl. It and some other early films (all lost, apart from one which is in a private collection) were mentioned in the Palm Beach Past blog. For that article, please click here. Perhaps Hollywood will some day produce a film that captures that era, in all its grandeur. Until then, I guess we just have to view the existing images and use our imaginations!

CLICK ON THE FIRST IMAGE, AND THEN USE THE ARROWS; for an interesting article containing more images and information about early Palm Beach, click here.

TO VIEW AS A SLIDE SHOW, CLICK ON THE FIRST IMAGE, AND THEN USE THE ARROWS.

Categories: Advertisements, Florida, Nature, Rockefeller Wm A. | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Easter—a century ago

Vintage Scrapbook, Wikimedia image, contributed 1/12/02 by KirNata, source Vintage Scrapbook, Tulane Public Relations (File licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

Vintage Scrapbook, Wikimedia image, contributed 1/12/02 by KirNata, source Vintage Scrapbook, Tulane Public Relations (File licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

Easter 1915. Ever wonder what things may have ‘looked like’ back then? Thanks to the Library of Congress and the Fulton History website, I’ve been able to gather a few items to share with you today that give a glimpse into that moment in the past.

I love old photos—I enjoy seeing the outfits and faces, and, in this case, checking out all the ladies bonnets floating about the images of Easter parades and throngs of churchgoers. This was the big opportunity for those of means to show off their new spring wardrobes and a chance for bystanders to witness quite a spectacle.  Irving Berlin’s 1948 musical Easter Parade, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and set in the Manhattan of 1912-1913, brings to life the fabulous parades of that era.

Judy Garland as Hannah Brown and Fred Astaire as Don Hewes in the finale of the 1948 musical Easter Parade

Judy Garland as Hannah Brown and Fred Astaire as Don Hewes in the finale of the 1948 musical Easter Parade (Image from Wikipedia)

And what would Easter be without bunnies? Check out the article about the ‘bunny trade’ back then—it was quite a brisk business. American bunnies. Bunnies from Australia. Bunnies from Belgium. The Australian bunnies ruled supreme. And apparently some folks took their bunny purchases very seriously, accommodating their tiny, new little friends in elaborate apartment-like ‘digs’! Thankfully I think (and I hope) a bit more common sense prevails nowadays when it comes to acquiring—or should I say ‘not acquiring’ bunnies at Easter time. Back then, it appears to have been de rigueur.

And, as always, the advertisements are very revealing. Ladies, don’t forget to purchase the ‘hair switches’ you’ll need to enhance the look of your Easter bonnet! And, gents, it may be time to invest in a new $15 balmacaan*!

Anyway, I hope you find something of interest here~ Best wishes to you all for a very Happy Easter!

*Per Merriam-Webster’s: “a loose single-breasted overcoat usually having raglan sleeves and a short turnover collar”

Fifth Avenue Easter Parade (Library of Congress -  LC-DIG-ggbain-09337)

Fifth Avenue Easter Parade (ca 1910 – ca 1915, Library of Congress – LC-DIG-ggbain-09337)

Easter - entering St. Thomas's (ca 1910 - ca 1915 - Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-11681)

Easter – entering St. Thomas’s (ca 1910 – ca 1915 – Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-11681)

Easter egg rolling, White House, [Washington, D.C.], 1915 (Library of Congress,  LC-DIG-npcc-27674)

Easter egg rolling, White House, [Washington, D.C.], 1915 (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-npcc-27674)

Easter egg rolling, White House, [Washington, D.C.], 1915 (Library of Congress,  LC-DIG-npcc-27675)

Easter egg rolling, White House, [Washington, D.C.], 1915 (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-npcc-27675)

EASTER. CHILDREN OF RODIER, WHITE HOUSE TELEGRAPH OPERATOR, READY FOR EGG ROLLING, 1915 (Library of Congress,  LC-DIG-hec-06371)

EASTER. CHILDREN OF RODIER, WHITE HOUSE TELEGRAPH OPERATOR, READY FOR EGG ROLLING, 1915 (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-06371)

Easter Bunnies in Great Demand (The Troy Times, 1 April 1915)

Rabbits for Easter souvenirs are unusually large and varied this season. The prices are comparatively high. A little bunny, which would be dear at a quarter of a dollar at any other time, is quickly snapped up for a dollar, sometimes more, just before Easter. As is customary at this time of year, the supply is far behind the demand.

The little fellows are offered for sale in expensive nests in great variety. These vary from simply little baskets just large enough for a single occupant to miniature kennels or houses with every modern convenience. These little homes often contain several apartments, carpeted with cotton or even raw silk. It often costs many dollars, to provide an Easter rabbit with one of these luxurious homes.

The pure white rabbits, as is customary, bring the best prices. They are generally preferred above any other color. The supply of white rabbits is very limited. They are imported especially for the Easter trade from Australia. This particular market is very difficult to supply, since it is necessary for the little bunnies to be not more than a few days old on Easter Sunday They quickly outgrow the size most in demand by the Easter trade.

The young of the native-born American rabbits are a grayish white in color. The color makes all the difference in the world when it comes to selling them at Easter.

The growth of late of the Belgian hare industry has made a large supply of their young available at Easter, but the color is not satisfactory. They are reddish brown in color and slightly larger than the older breeds. It is hoped by the trade that the young of the Belgian hare will eventually come into favor, thus solving the difficult problem of the Easter rabbit supply.

Illustrated is an Easter bunny that came to live with two little boys. These little boys have a game which they invariably play, on Easter morning. “Hunting the eggs” it is called. Their mamma buys candy eggs in beautiful colors, and on the night before Easter when the kiddies are slumbering she makes little nests of hay, using as a foundation old hats; then she fills these nests with the colored candy Easter eggs and secretes them in the most unheard of places. With shouts of glee these youngsters pass the early morning hours of Easter day searching for these nests.

The Troy Times, 1 April 1915

The Troy Times, 1 April 1915

The Troy Times, 1 April 1915

CLICK TO ENLARGE – The Troy Times, 1 April 1915

easter_clothes_1915

Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, 31 March 1915

The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, 3 April 1915

The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, 3 April 1915

Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, 31 March 1915

Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, 31 March 1915

Categories: 1900s, Advertisements, Easter, Holidays & Festivities | 4 Comments

Thanksgiving—a century ago: Teddy Roosevelt, turkey, football, ragamuffin parades, and ‘Black Friday’

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 (Credit: Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 (Credit: Wikipedia)

Life magazine cover, 1904

Life magazine cover, 1904

Thanksgiving is just a week away, and I enjoy thinking about how our ancestors may have gone about their own Thanksgiving Day preparations and celebrations.

I came across some ads and articles from 1904. What would have been going on back then? Grandma (not yet married) and her five sisters were likely cooking up a storm in the Woodruff family home in Hillside, NJ. The Andrew Jackson Brodhead family was marking its first Thanksgiving without family matriarch Ophelia. Did they spend the day at son James Easton Brodhead’s gloriously big home in Flemington, NJ? Did my great-grandfather Andrew Douglas Brodhead (James’ brother) and family of Perth Amboy, NJ, join them? And, on my mom’s side, the Trewin family was celebrating in Elizabeth, NJ. Did they get together with other family in nearby Bayonne or Jersey City, or have a quiet day at home? Did ‘Thanksgiving maskers’ come by to beg for pennies? (A tradition described very well in this Huffington Post article “A Forgotten Thanksgiving Custom: Masks, Mischief and Cross-dressing” – pub. 11/20/2012.)

Finding a Thanksgiving Turkey (Credit: Library of Congress*)

Finding a Thanksgiving Turkey (Credit: Library of Congress*)

Perry NY Record, 24 Nov 1904 advertisement

Perry NY Record, 24 Nov 1904 advertisement

In the early 20th century, the household radio had yet to exist, not to mention all the other devices available to us today—devices that, dare I say it, often distract us from interacting with the very family members in our midst? I imagine that back then, our ancestors enjoyed listening to the phonograph, dancing, playing games, and exchanging news and views on all sorts of topics. There’d certainly have been no TV football games to watch or fall in sleep in front of! But apparently high school Thanksgiving football games had become popular by then; so perhaps, our ancestors enjoyed watching a game or two in the crisp November air…or ventured into the Big Apple to watch a ‘ragamuffin parade‘—popular back then (see the below article “Turkey Feasts for Everyone”) and still a feature of many autumn festivals today.

Thanksgiving Maskers scrambling for pennies (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Thanksgiving Maskers scrambling for pennies (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Thanksgiving Maskers (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Thanksgiving Maskers (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

It would seem safe to say that many of my ancestors would likely have read the text of the inspiring and patriotic Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (below) by President Theodore Roosevelt (Rep-NY) who had won reelection by a landslide that year. The ladies in the respective families may have poured over Jule De Ryther’s cooking tips. De Ryther, celebrated soprano turned food maven, provided instructions in the newspaper for the ‘little woman’ on how to make a ‘Yankee Thanksgiving Dinner’ (see below). And, yes, it seems likely that our ancestors had some shopping on their mind. I found one full-page ‘Black Friday’ ad (shown below) with a headline screaming “Give Thanks Today For These Bargains Tomorrow.” It would seem that not much has changed after all these years, except for the items on sale and, of course, the prices!

Anyway, back to 2014. Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m still debating a couple of turkey recipes (Tyler Florence’s ‘Buried Turkey with Gravy‘ or Sandra Lee’s ‘Roasted Butter Herb Turkey‘). Both are excellent recipes. Tried Sandra’s last year and Tyler’s the year before. His is very handy if you want to get the bird cooked fast. It’s quick and easy and the meat comes out wonderfully moist and flavorful. Stuffing must be cooked separately however, and (for me) it’s a bit of a struggle to split the bird in half. Sandra goes the traditional stuffed-bird route, and rubs a garlic-herb-butter mix under the skin. The result is pretty delicious.

Feel free to share any favorite recipes in the comment box below. And, enjoy your Thanksgiving 2014!

P.S. What an ideal time to talk about family history and family traditions!

Lithograph by Forbes Litho. Mfg. Co., Boston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

President Theodore Roosevelt (Republican from NY) – Lithograph by Forbes Litho. Mfg. Co., Boston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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PROCLAMATION By PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT:

It has pleased Almighty God to bring the American people in safety and honor through another year, and, in accordance with the long unbroken custom handed down to us by our forefathers, the time has come when a special day shall be set apart in which to thank Him who holds all nations in the hollow of His hand, for the mercies thus vouchsafed to us. During the century and a quarter of our national life we as a people have been blessed beyond all others, and for this we owe humble and heartfelt thanks to the Author of all blessings.

The year that has closed has been one of peace within our borders as well as between us and all other nations. The harvests have been abundant, and those who work, whether with hand or brain, are prospering greatly. Reward has waited upon honest effort. We have been enabled to do our duty to ourselves and to others. Never has there been a time when religious and charitable effort has been more evident. Much has been given to us and much will be expected from us. We speak of what has been done by this Nation in no spirit of boastfulness or vainglory, but with full and reverent realization that our strength is as nothing unless we are helped from above. Hitherto we have been given the heart and the strength to do the tasks allotted to us as they severally arose. We are thankful for all that has been done for us in the past, and we pray that in the future we may be strengthened in the unending struggle to do our duty fearlessly and honestly, with charity and good will, with respect for ourselves and love towards our fellow men.

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1910. Published by Wolf-Clapsaddle. Credit: Wikimedia

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1910. Published by Wolf-Clapsaddle. Credit: Wikimedia

In this great Republic the effort to combine national strength with personal freedom is being tried on a scale more gigantic than ever before in the world’s history. Our success will mean much, not only for ourselves, but for the future of all mankind, and every man or woman in our land should feel the grave responsibility resting upon him or her, for in the last analysis this success must depend upon the high average of our individual citizenship, upon the way in which each of us does his duty by himself and his neighbor.

Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart Thursday, the twenty-fourth of this November, to be observed as a day of festival and thanksgiving by all the people of the United States, at home or abroad, and do recommend that on that day they cease from their ordinary occupations and gather in their several places of worship or in their homes, devoutly to give thanks to Almighty God for the benefits He has conferred, upon us as individuals and as a Nation, and to beseech Him that in the future His divine favor may be continued to us.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of November, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and four, and of the independence of the United States, the one hundred and twenty-ninth.

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Food writer Jule De Ryther turns up the heat in the 1904 Thanksgiving kitchen:

New York Press, 20 Nov. 1904 (Courtesy of www.fultonhistory.com)

New York Press, 20 Nov. 1904 (Courtesy of www.fultonhistory.com)

New York Press, 20 Nov. 1904 (Courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com)

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A little Black Friday shopping anyone? Men’s sweaters – 98 cents; Kashmir rugs – $8.75; women’s coats – $6.95 [CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE]:

Black Friday advertisement, Friday's Buffalo NY Courier, 24 Nov. 1904

Black Friday advertisement, Friday’s Buffalo NY Courier, 24 Nov. 1904

Thanksgiving

New York Sun, Friday, 25 Nov 1904 (Courtesy: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Taking Home Turkey From Raffle (Credit: Library of Congress*)

Taking Home Turkey From Raffle (Credit: Library of Congress*)

Thanksgiving_NY_Sun_25Nov1904_parades Thanksgiving_NY_Sun_25Nov1904_parades2 Thanksgiving_NY_Sun_25Nov1904_parades3

Thanksgiving_NY_Sun_25Nov1904_parades4

New York Sun, Friday, 25 Nov 1904 (courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com)

 PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES: New York City, Thanksgiving holiday scenes, 1911. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; VISIT:  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675293/

Categories: 1900s, Brodhead, Holidays & Festivities, New Jersey, Roosevelt President Teddy, Thanksgiving, Trewin, Woodruff | 6 Comments

1898 Shipwreck: Brodhead sister-in-law & husband lost

SS Mohegan, 1898 (Wikipedia-Public domain in US)

SS Mohegan, 1898 (Wikipedia-Public domain in US)

It was the year 1898. William McKinley, a Republican from Ohio, was President, his assassination at the hands of an anarchist still three years away. The Spanish-American War was in full swing. Hawaii was annexed as a US territory. The Wright Brothers had yet to fly, and the initial laying of the RMS Titanic‘s hull was eleven years in the future. And, of course, from the last post, we know that men’s suits were selling for $12 and a glass of soda cost a nickel.

By no means the largest maritime disaster to have taken place prior to 14 October 1898, nonetheless the tragic downing that day of the SS Mohegan off Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula near the village of Porthoustock, was a major event that found its way onto the headlines of the world’s newspapers, large and small. The loss was inarguably a huge blow to all the families on both sides of the Atlantic who so abruptly and unexpectedly lost their precious loved ones.

New York Times, 16 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

New York Times, 16 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Of the Mohegan’s 146 passengers (roughly two-thirds were crew), 106 souls were lost including Robert Packer Brodhead‘s sister-in-law Emilie Loveland Luke (age 32) and her husband Loren M. Luke (age 28) of Kingston, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania.

SS Mohegan wrecked on the Manacles, the Lizard coast of Cornwall (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

SS Mohegan wrecked on the Manacles, the Lizard coast of Cornwall (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

The ship had gone off course on the evening of 14 October—just a day after departing London. The night was clear but the  the currents and winds were strong. Just as the passengers were sitting down for their evening meal, the Mohegan smashed into a submerged reef called the Manacles (about a mile from shore), and sank so quickly that only 40 passengers—those who made it into the first lifeboats (mostly women) and those who survived the plunge into the rugged seas and the jagged rocks below—managed to escape. All the officers, including Captain Griffith, whose skills had always been highly regarded, drowned. Many people were severely injured on the rocks—some to the point that they succumbed from their injuries even after being rescued from the water.

Villagers on land had witnessed the Mohegan too close to shore before the accident and knew the vessel was in trouble. Some set off immediately in boats hoping to get there in time to assist with an evacuation, but the ship sank too quickly. Rescuers in a lifeboat found 14 exhausted and near-drowned crew members on the rocks. A tugboat picked up one survivor who’d been in the water over seven hours and was able to give an initial account of the accident.

Most of the dead passengers were affluent Americans who were returning home from time spent in Europe on business or pleasure. The Mohegan, owned by the Atlantic Transport Line, was part passenger liner and part animal carrier (it had 700 stalls for cattle); the accommodations on board for the human travelers were very opulent and comfortable.

Captain Griffith, lost with the Mohegan (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Captain Griffith, lost with the Mohegan (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

The vessel, originally named the Cleopatra, was built for a leisurely Atlantic crossing not for speed. She was purchased by the Atlantic Transport Line to replace ships that had been commandeered by the US government for duty in the Spanish-American War. It had only undertaken one previous voyage (in July 1898), which was fraught with mechanical problems that grounded the vessel until she was felt to be sea worthy again—in time for the October 13th sailing. By then, she had been renamed the Mohegan and was manned by a crew who thought her bad luck.

Robert P. Brodhead, husband of Fanny V. Loveland; son of Andrew Jackson Brodhead & Ophelia Easton.

Robert P. Brodhead, husband of Fanny V. Loveland; son of Andrew Jackson Brodhead & Ophelia Easton.

Initially the Luke, Loveland, and Brodhead families of Kingston had severe doubts as to whether the couple had actually been on board. Robert Brodhead had received a letter from the couple several days before the accident saying they would be departing on October 13 on the steamer Victoria; but Robert then learned that for some reason the Victoria sailed early—on October 9—and that her sister ship, the Mohegan, sailed on the 13th. (The switch it seems may well have had to do with some of the Mohegan’s mechanical problems taking longer to solve than expected). The family in Kingston initially did not want to fear the worst and questioned the initial passenger list that showed the Lukes as having been on board the downed vessel. Sadly, within days, the families’ fears were realized when Loren Luke’s uncle received a telegram from Vicar Diggins of the St. Keverne church (St. Keverne is a village near Porthoustock) to which bodies had been taken for identification and, in some cases, burial. The telegram stated that Loren’s body had been identified and that there were still four women yet to be identified. It was presumed that one of them was Emilie, and eventually that identification was made.

Most of the dead were buried in a common grave in the St. Keverne churchyard. Most of the bodies of the wealthy Americans who'd been on board were embalmed before being transported to NYC (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Most of the dead were buried in a common grave in the St. Keverne churchyard. Most of the bodies of the wealthy Americans who’d been on board were embalmed before being transported to NYC (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Most, if not all, of the deceased Americans on board were embalmed by morticians sent down to Cornwall from London (the local area had not yet made it a practice to embalm the dead). Once embalmed, the bodies made the long journey back to the US on the SS Menonimee, a sister ship of the ill-fated Mohegan. Many of the others who were lost were laid to rest in a common grave in St. Keverne churchyard, where a memorial and stained glass window honor their memory.

For the Lovelands in particular this was yet another cruel twist of fate. Emilie Loveland Luke’s parents, William and Linda Loveland, had seven children in all; three had died as infants: firstborn Ellen Tiffany and the last two children (both boys)—William and John Walter. Another daughter, Mary Buckingham Loveland (wife of Rev. George N. Makely), died in June 1895, leaving just three children among the living: Fanny Vaughn Loveland Brodhead, Elizabeth Shepherd Brodhead, and Emilie. Earlier in 1898, in the month of March, Mr. Loveland (William) passed away. So with Emilie swept away by the Mohegan disaster, Mrs. Loveland was left with just two of her seven children.

Compounding all the grief felt by the family was surely an additional factor—and that is the reason Emilie and Luke had gone abroad that August in the first place. On July 31, they lost their first child, an infant son named simply ‘Loveland Luke,’ who was born on October 21, 1897. Emilie had taken the loss exceptionally hard, and sensing that a change of scenery may do her some good, Loren organized the trip abroad. They departed on the SS Victoria in mid-August for a two-month stay in Europe.

The Wilkes-Barre Times of November 7, 1898, mentioned that Robert P. Brodhead was in New York City making arrangements to bring the bodies of Loren and Emilie home to Kingston. Robert P. Brodhead, the eighth child of Andrew Jackson Brodhead and Ophelia Easton Brodhead, was one of my great grandfather Andrew Douglas Brodhead’s younger brothers. Robert married Kingston native Fanny Vaughn Loveland in 1889; the couple lived in Kingston where Robert developed a successful career as a contractor, eventually heading Brodhead Contracting Company. He’s the one who purchased Wheat Plains, the old family farm south of Milford that had temporarily gone out of the family’s possession. In November 1896, Fanny’s younger sister Emilie married Loren M. Luke, an 1893 Princeton graduate, Kingston attorney, and highly regarded member of the Luzerne County bar association.  In his spare time, he taught classes in English grammar at the YMCA, was secretary of the Princeton Alumni Association, and was involved with Sunday School. Loren had a home built on Wyoming Avenue for Emilie in advance of their November 1896 nuptials. The Brodheads and Lukes both lived in Kingston and the Loveland sisters remained very close, visiting each other frequently.

Loren Mill Luke, Emilie Loveland Luke, and their infant son Loveland Luke were buried on November 9, 1898, in the Forty Fort Cemetery, in Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania. A family gathering took place at Mrs. William Loveland’s home prior to the burial. (To view the graves of the Lukes, visit the Find a Grave website.)

Such devastating losses must have been impossible to bear at times. And the following spring of 1899, Robert and Fanny Brodhead endured another tragic loss—their first-born child, a son named Robert aged 10, died of diphtheria. Perhaps all that was more than Mrs. William Loveland could bear, as she died a year later in June of 1900.

Rumors abounded as to what caused the Mohegan to go off course. The official verdict was human error, but some thought the weather that day had somehow affected the ship’s instrumentation. And, some villagers claimed to have seen Captain Griffith rescued by a lifeboat and then disappearing into the hills, causing some to rumor that he purposely wrecked the ship due to financial woes (he was an American Transport Lines shareholder and could thus collect insurance monies). As it turned out, the ship was grossly underinsured.

Even a quarter of a century later, the event was mentioned in a “25 Years Ago” column in the Caledonia New York Advertiser (see clipping). Today, the SS Mohegan is one of the UK’s most famous wrecks for scuba diving.

Caledonia NY Advertiser, 25 October 1923 (www.fultonhistory.com)

“25 Years Ago” column, Caledonia NY Advertiser, 25 October 1923 (www.fultonhistory.com)

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Princeton Verse, edited by Raymond Blaine Fosdick (Hausauer, Son & Jones Co., 1904), p. 59:

Lines on a Ring by Loren M. Luke, Class of 1893

Oh precious drop of crystal dew,
Set in a tiny band of gold,
Which doth within its little grasp
A blue-veined finger softly hold–
Thou failest if thy radiant rays
Are seeking—bold attempt ‘twould be!—
To show a fraction of the love
That beams from Edith’s eyes on me.

***************************************************************************

From The Quin-decennial Record of the Class of '93 of Princeton University, p. 73 (published 1908; available as Google eBook)

From The Quin-decennial Record of the Class of ’93 of Princeton University, p. 73 (published 1908; available as Google eBook)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

IthacaTimes_2

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Resources:

  • The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan – a poem by Scottish poet William McGonagall
  • The Atlantic Transport Line – the SS Mohegan
  • St. Keverne Local History Society – The Mohegan Tapes
  • Wreck SiteSS Mohegan
  • Genealogy of the Loveland Family in the United States of America by John Bigelow Loveland and George Loveland (I. M. Keeler & Son, 1892) – Volume I – Google Books
  • Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula
  • “The Tragedy of the Sea. Mr. and Mrs. Loren M. Luke of Kingston, Believed to Be Lost,” Saturday, October 15, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6
  • “Last Edition! 170 People Drowned at Sea. The Steamship Mohegan Went on the Rocks off the Lizard,” Saturday, October 15, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6, 1
  • “Postscript. Four O’Clock. Mr. Luke’s Body Identified. Telegram Received This Morning – No Women Yet Identified,” Monday, October 17, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6.
  • “Beautiful Tributes. To the Late Loren M. Luke from Members of the Bar, Saturday,” October 22, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 5.
    “The Mohegan Disaster. Interesting Illustrations Reprinted from the London Illustrated News,” Monday, November 7, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 7.
  • “Kingston,” November 7, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 7.
  • “A Double Funeral. The Remains of Mr. and Mrs. Loren M. Luke Interred in Forty Fort Cemetery,” Wednesday, November 9, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6.
Categories: 1890s, Brodhead, Death, England, Forty Fort Luzerne Co PA, Loveland, Luke, Spanish American War, SS Mohegan, St. Keverne Cornwall | 2 Comments

October 1898 ads herald transition from summer to fall

Every now and then I’ll post a few old ads that I find amusing for one reason or another. Having just paid $2 for a head of lettuce, the prices always seem to get me the most. Read and enjoy—or maybe I should say “‘Read and weep’!

Ithaca NY Daily News, 17 October 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca NY Daily News, 17 October 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca NY Daily News, 17 October 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca NY Daily News, 17 October 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Categories: 1890s, Advertisements | Leave a comment

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